New human rights group in Seattle makes push for 100,000 Syrian refugees in the United States


Activists Anny Khan and Isra Ayesh co-founded a new human rights group in the Seattle area. Americans for Refugees and Immigrants is a newly established human rights campaign with a focus on the rebuilding of refugee camps in host countries in an attempt to relieve a small part of the economic burden. According to ARI’s Facebook page “ARI believes it has a moral responsibility to stand up for justice & equality for refugees and immigrants coming to the Land Of Dreams & Oppurtunities!”. Anny Khan says “We should not be punishing host countries for their generosity by leaving them stranded in dealing with crisis’s from all over the world not just Syria. Jordan & Lebanon, these countries are breaking down under the burden of these overcrowded refugee camps.


Isra Ayesh


Anny Khan

Ultimately, the group is interested in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. They are starting the process of  meeting with city council members and state representatives in an effort to put pressure on the federal government to increase the number of refugees allowed in the US. Additionally, Khan says that with the number of American military bases in the Middle East that the US government should be using the resources already there. “We are against troops on the ground. But we do believe we can use any of the US naval bases around that area to rescue these people on boats in the Mediterranean Sea and transport them to land safely.”


On Monday, September 28th, a small but vocal group of activists met at the Henry M. Jackson Federal building in downtown Seattle to make their voices heard that refugees are welcome in Washington. Chants of “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”, “No one is illegal, refugees are people, and “From Syrian to Mexico, borders have got to go.” could be heard echoing of the walls of downtown Seattle. Two of the activists involved with the demonstration at the Federal building work with Oxfam America, who is part of a coalition of aid organizations providing relief in Syria and are helping with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. More information on Oxfam’s work can be found here…

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Climate activists in Seattle celebrate victory over Shell

Activists fighting climate change came together today at the Port of Seattle to celebrate a victory as Royal Dutch Shell announces an end to oil and gas exploration “for the foreseeable future” as they did not find sufficient oil and gas reserves in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. Shell’s additional reasoning for ending drilling in the Chukchi Sea was the “challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”


Zarna Joshi, a climate activist with Women of Color for Systemic Change, had this to say in reply…”You know what was challenging and unpredictable? Us. We challenged them and we showed them that you cannot predict that the people are going to sit by and let this happen. If fact, you can count on the fact that people will rise up they’re going to stop you, and they’re going to stop this. David can bring down Goliath, we did it. If the people had not risen up…all over the planet against Shell over Arctic drilling and over fossil fuels, there’s no way Shell would have said it was pulling out of Arctic drilling. There would be other companies trying to go up there to drill in the Arctic, but the fact that none of them are even daring to bring it up is the power of the people. They know that the moment that they try, we are going to rise up against them.”


Through their efforts in Seattle, Portland, and Alaska, activists have brought attention to the effects of a fossil fuel economy on climate change. Activists have discussed continued pressure against the fossil fuel industry with protests against oil trains and a fossil fuel divestment campaign aimed at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Climate activists say they have struck a huge blow to the reputation of Shell, and with a $7bn price tag on oil exploration in the Arctic and no return on investment, Shell will be forced to pay attention to its investors as well.



“Shell No Victory Press Release

Shellno Activists Held Victory Press Conference at Port of Seattle Headquarters

SEATTLE, WA, Tuesday May 29th 2015 – The Shellno Action Council held a victory press conference outside Pier 69 at 2pm, Monday Sept 28th. The event was an impromptu celebration of the movement’s victory Monday morning when Shell announced its plans to pull out of the Arctic for the foreseeable future.  This victory comes on the back of the global attention Seattle received over the Shellno direct actions on water and land to stop Shell’s Arctic drilling. The movement consists of many local groups and individuals, including Rising Tide Seattle, Idle No More, Bayan PNW, 350Seattle, Raging Grannies, Plant for the Planet, Backbone Campaign, Mosquito Fleet, Women of Color Speak Out, Greenpeace and many more. There are now Shellno Action Councils in Seattle, Portland, Bellingham, San Francisco, and Alaska. Shellno has intensified the global movement against corporate resource extraction by illustrating how kayaktivism and land blockades, as well as grassroots cross movement building can stop Shell’s destructive activities around the world and and can prevent further fossil fuel extraction.

Shellno activist Zarna Joshi said: “We’re here at the Port of Seattle because this is where it all started. The Port Commissioners thought that they could make a secret deal with Shell and get away with it but we didn’t let them. We called out corruption and put ourselves on the line to defend the Arctic. We stood in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Salish Seas and we’re here to say that we’ve won the battle and now we’re going to win the war. This fossil fuel system needs to end.”

Shellno activist Kurtis Dengler said: “Shell would have us believe that this decision was purely economic but we all know that the growing Shellno movement has shifted the political landscape dramatically and created resistance every step of the way from Portland to Alaska. Now it’s time for President Obama to see the writing on the wall and close the books on Arctic drilling for good.”

Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign said: “This should be a warning sign to any dirty energy corporation and elected officials tempted to do their bidding. These projects are toxic to the planet as well as their profits, reputations, and relevance as leaders. We, the People, demand a pivot toward renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure.”

The Shellno Action Council also released this video:

The next Shellno meeting will be at 6:30pm on Monday Oct 5th at the Hillman City Collaboratory to plan the next steps of the movement and new members are invited to attend the meeting. Shell may still bring their Arctic drilling rig back to Seattle as they end operations and the climate activists say they will be ready for them, organized and united. “Don’t let anybody tell you that this system can’t be changed,” Zarna Joshi said. “The people have the power and David can literally stop Goliath.”

Visit Shellno Action Council’s Facebook page for details on the next meeting and upcoming celebration parties.

Contact: Zarna Joshi,, 972 754 5171

For more information about Shellno and its members, visit

Chinese President Xi JinPing welcomed to Seattle by four separate protest groups

As Xi JinPing, the current president of China, met with Washington governor Jay Inslee and Seattle mayor Ed Murray at the Westin hotel in downtown Seattle, several protest groups gathered nearby to demonstrate against a wide variety of alleged human rights violations.

A protest group consisting of Tibetan-Americans from Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland gathered at Westlake Park to demonstrate against alleged human rights abuses beginning with the overthrow of the Tibetan government in Lhasa in 1959 by the Peoples Republic of China. Demonstrators are protesting for religious freedom, freedom of speech and media, a release of political prisoners, and the right to preserve their cultural traditions.

Additional protest groups included a group centered around democracy in China, a group fighting for an independent Taiwan, and practitioners of Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), a religious practice currently banned in China. A smaller contingent of demonstrators were interspersed along 5th avenue to welcome the Chinese president with flags of the United States and China.

At approximately 4:30pm, demonstrators marched from Westlake Park, down 5th avenue to Olive Way, where they were stopped by multiple lines of police, securing the block around the Westin hotel. The demonstrators were flanked by Seattle police on both sides but no arrests were made.

Climate activists and 350 Seattle continue push for Gates Foundation divestment from fossil fuels

In an continued effort to influence the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels, alt-folk duo “Animals of Grace” played for those handing out fliers and holding signs outside the Gates Foundation headquarters.

According to the Gates Divest website, gatesdivest.orgThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has highlighted the need to reduce annual investment in fossil fuels by at least $30 billion per year in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Yet the world’s largest charitable foundation, the Gates Foundation, has 100s of millions of dollars invested in companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Peabody Coal. We call upon the Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels and to use their global influence to encourage the essential shift of investment capital away from the fossil fuel industry.”

When Alec Connon, an organizer with 350 Seattle, was asked about continued efforts to influence the Gates Foundation to divest, he replied “In the run up to Paris, we need individuals such as Bill and Melinda to step up and take leadership and we, the people of Seattle, will continue to turn up outside the foundation everyday between now and then to let them know that. We will be outside the foundation everyday that they’re open and we’ll continue to have music and speakers every Saturday. If you want to get involved, email”

From the Facebook event page…

We’ve been handing out flyers every day the Gates Foundation’s visitor’s center is open since the campaign launch on 9/9. We thought we’d make this Saturday’s flyering more lively with some live music!

Seattle’s alt-folk duo Animals of Grace (Erika Lundahl and Doug Indrick) will be performing LIVE on the sidewalk outside the foundation for FREE from noon to 2pm. Come on down, meet other campaign members, enjoy the music, and even hand out some flyers to passersby.

Huge thanks to Animals of Grace ( for coming down.”

You can see a list of Gates Foundation investments here…

You can read more about the “Gates Divest” campaign here…

Community forum meets to discuss Seattle educators strike

The Seattle city council chambers were full to capacity as educators, parents, and community members filled the room to hear teachers and other educators talk about the needs of Seattle school children and the current dispute with the school district.

Hosted by Kshama Sawant and Jesse Hagopian

You can hear audio of the speakers here…


Speakers included:

Gary Thomas / Garfield High School Teacher & Bargaining Team Member
Matt Maley / Substitute Teacher
Jana Robbins / Lunch and Recess Matters
Shedrick Johnson / President of the Garfield Black Student Union
Shelly Hurley / Teacher at Graham Hill Elementary School & Bargaining Team Member
Rita Green / Education Chair of the Seattle King County NAACP

Statements from:

Shakell Walker & Mariela Mascorro / Striking Teachers from Pasco, WA

You can read more about the Seattle educators on strike here

and here

Union supporters risk arrest in continuing struggle for job security at the Space Needle

In the continuing struggle of union workers at Seattle’s Space Needle, over 100 supporters and members of Unite Here Local 8 formed a picket line and risked arrest in front of the Space Needle. After 45 minutes of picketing, 23 activists sat in a circle at the middle of Broad Street and John Street in front of the Space Needle while 15-20 SPD officers blocked traffic and watched from the sidewalk. A marching band kept the picket line moving as the circle of civil disobedience chanted demands of job security.

The Space Needle recently compensated workers for back pay and missed raises, but the issue of subcontracting is still a concern among workers.  KPLU reports “Space Needle LLC said in a statement that the workers have one of the strongest wages and benefits packages in the hospitality industry. The company says it’s had the right to subcontract for the last 28 years and that this issue hasn’t come up in previous decades of bargaining.”

Space Needle worker Jessica Severance says “I don’t understand why they can say at negotiations that they have no plans to subcontract, but can’t manage to put that language in our contracts?” As the Union’s action shut down the Space Needle Loop where the valet is located, Union organizers gathered donations from the workers and supporters in excess of $280 to account for any tips lost for the 5 Space Needle valets working between 3:30 pm and 5 pm.

From the Facebook event page…

This Labor Day, Space Needle workers are taking to the picket line to demand assurance from the private owners of the Symbol of Seattle that they’ll still have their jobs come next September.

Originating as a holiday to celebrate the contributions of American workers, Labor Day is now one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, meaning hard work and long hours for hospitality workers and runaway profits for hospitality owners. In 2014, Seattle had the highest average hotel room rates of any city in the country over the Labor Day weekend.

Space Needle workers have organized and fought to make their jobs some of the best hospitality jobs in the city. However, these advances could all be lost if management decides to bring in subcontractors. Under existing conditions, an outside contractor could cut wages and benefits and refuse to rehire long-time workers.

Subcontracting is pervasive throughout the hospitality industry and workers in valet and food and beverage services are particularly vulnerable. As such, subcontracting protections have become a standard component of union contracts for hospitality workers in Seattle.

Space Needle owners are still refusing to grant workers these basic protections.”

Protest at Dairygold for worker safety

Six months after dairy farm worker Randy Vasquez drowned in an unmarked manure pond while working at night, his widow and labor supporters met to protest unsafe conditions at Dairygold headquarters. The labor leaders attempted to deliver over 30,000 petitions asking for a dialogue with Dairygold executives concerning worker safety but were met with locked doors.
When the event organizers called the front desk to ask to meet with the CEO, they was told “he’s not here” followed by silence. Labor leaders staged a sit in at the front doors but no one from Dairygold spoke to the group.

“Nobody should die like Randy Vasquez did, drowning in a manure pond at a Darigold member farm in Mabton, WA. His death earlier this year has strengthened the resolve of Darigold farmworkers and inspired other labor and community activists to take up the battle to improve dairy workers’ safety.

Next Wednesday, September 2nd, we’ll deliver more than 30,000 petition signatures to Darigold demanding that the company meet with the United Farm Workers (UFW) to deal with health and safety for farmworkers. The petitions will be delivered in a casket, honoring the eleven dairy farmworkers who have died in recent years. After Randy’s death, the dairy was fined a paltry $6,800 by L&I for “serious” safety violations – but the owner is appealing even that small fine, evidently the going price for a farmworker’s death.

Dairy work is among the most dangerous in the country with injury rates 50% higher than in most private sector jobs.  Dairy workers typically work five or six 12-hour days, followed by one day off before they’re back to work.  They breathe foul air containing bacteria and manure dust, moving quickly over slick cement floors, often stepped on by 1,500 pound cattle.”

  • Martin Luther King County Labor council